Poll: Texans support state parks and don’t want state parks funding diverted

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Press contacts:

Ian Davis, Keep Texas Parks Open, ian@keeptexasparksopen.com, 512-466-6939

David Hill, Hill Research Consultants, dhill@hillresearch.com

Poll: Texans support state parks and don’t want state parks funding diverted

PowerPoint slides on poll results are available for download here
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AUSTIN, TX (Feb. 6, 2013) – An overwhelming majority of Texans support full funding for state parks and are frustrated that parks funding gets diverted away from its intended purpose, according to a new statewide public opinion survey released today by the Keep Texas Parks Open campaign. The poll conducted in January 2013 by Hill Research Consultants found that four out of five Texans support funding state parks even during tough economic times, and three out of four support using the Sporting Goods Sales Tax as a reliable funding mechanism for parks.

Pollster David Hill, who has conducted similar statewide surveys in the past regarding parks funding, commented, “It’s striking that support for parks remains strong during good times and bad. Despite our recent economic slump, the poll results actually indicate a slight uptick in parks support.”

Some key findings of the poll include:

  • 87 percent- See parks as especially important even in tough economic times.
  • 85 percent – Acknowledge a need to protect our natural areas.
  • 84 percent – See state parks as essential to healthy active lifestyles.

The use of the existing Sporting Good Sales Tax (SGST) to fund our state parks enjoyed broad-based support from a significant majority of Texans with 76 percent of voters surveyed saying that they support using revenue from the SGST tax for acquiring, maintaining and operating state and local parks.

In fact, 69 percent of those surveyed said they would vote yes for a state constitutional amendment permanently dedicating sporting goods tax revenues to sufficient parks funding.

Keep Texas Parks Open Director Ian Davis commented, “Texans were promised that the Sporting Goods Sales Tax would fund state parks. Instead of diverting three-quarters of parks funding away from our natural spaces, the public wants to keep our promise to parks and use the Sporting Goods Sales Tax for its intended purpose.”

The SGST, a small portion of the sales tax on outdoor recreation and fitness equipment, was instituted by the Texas Legislature in 1993 as a way to pay for parks and parks programs. During the last legislative session, only $52 million of $250 million in sporting goods sales tax revenue was allocated to Texas state parks.  The Texas Comptroller has estimated that the Sporting Goods Sales Tax will generate $268 million dollars in revenue over the 2014-2015 biennium.

“The biggest challenge is that most people aren’t aware of the SGST, so it’s easy for legislators to divert those funds without incurring much of a political consequence. Only 23 percent of Texans said they were familiar with the Sporting Goods Sales Tax, which has remained stable over the past four years,” said Davis. “That’s why a primary goal of the Keep Texas Parks Open campaign is to educate citizens that the sporting goods sales tax exists, and that it’s a viable way to fund our parks.”

Eight million people visit Texas state parks every year. Beyond the benefits to quality of life, water quality and habitat protection, parks also provide a significant economic boost.  An extensive 80-park study conducted by Texas A&M University concluded that parks generate $800 million in sales annually and account for 12,000 jobs.

“Investing in our state parks is smart public policy that delivers real benefits for our economy, jobs and our quality of life,” said Davis. “Parks provide a tremendous economic boost to state and local economies, and with our current budget surplus, it doesn’t make sense to close parks.”

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Keep Texas Parks Open is a campaign that educates Texans on adequately funding state parks through use of the Sporting Goods Sales Tax.

Find us online at http://www.facebook.com/KeepTexasParksOpen.

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